'Grizzy' living a dream when selected by hometown B's

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'Grizzy' living a dream when selected by hometown B's

PITTSBURGH Matthew Grzelcyk has obviously always had the dream of suiting up for the Bruins since he was a two-year-old hockey pup skating on the old Boston Garden ice with his dad.

Grzelcyk grew up in Charlestown in the shadows of the Garden before it was knocked down, and then the new TD Garden after it. Even better his dad, John, has worked in the bull gang crew changing the ice over to hardwood at the Garden for over 35 years.

So Grzelcyk comes from a good, old-fashioned Boston hockey family and has been a diehard Bruins fan for as far back as he can remember. Getting selected by the hometown Bruins in the third round (85th overall) as an undersized 5-foot-9, 171-pound defenseman is about as good as it gets.

I really cant put any of it into words. Its pretty over the top, said Grzelcyk. I met with the Bruins, but I didnt come in with high expectations. Its kind of a shock, but I couldnt be happier.

I wasnt ranked that high and Im kind of a smaller guy. So this was unexpected, but being a hometown kid this is exactly what you dream about. Its all come true. Ive always had this dream to play for the Bruins someday, and hopefully that comes true too.

Grzelcyk played in the prestigious US Team Development Program over the last two seasons, so he was away from Boston much of the time. But the 18-year-old will be heading back to Boston in the fall when he begins his college career at Boston University, and begins the latest in a long line of Bruins properties that develop their game as Terriers.

The easiest comparables in terms of size for Grzelcyk with the Bruins would be Matt Hunwick or David Warsofsky, but Bostons scouting staff believes that he holds a higher offensive ceiling. His skating is well above-average, his first pass out of the zone is unfailingly accurate and his considerable offensive abilities will be his meal ticket to the NHL if he can make it that far.

The game is built on speed and its something that I pride myself on. I move the puck up to the forwards and let them do the work. I play my best when Im aggressive and jumping up into the play on offense, said Grzelcyk. Theyve built that team on toughness, so maybe they need somebody that can break the puck out and get the puck to the forwards.
Grzelcyk meanwhile said hes always loved Bryan Rafalskis game when it comes to NHL players, but has idolized Nicklas Lidstrom from afar while growing a fan of the Black and Gold.

His favorite Bruins player? Patrice Bergeron.

So if Grzelcyk can harness the natural grit in growing up a Charlestown Townie and combine that with Bergerons leadership skills and high motor, Rafalskis ability to efficiently move the puck and Lidstroms longevity the Bruins could have themselves something pretty special.

I watched a lot of Bryan Rafalski growing up because I was a smaller guy, but my idol was always Nik Lidstrom. Its pretty easy guy to model yourself both on the ice and off the ice.
It will also be a victory for local hockey programs as Grizzy was a product of the Middlesex Islanders minor hockey program coached and organized by former Merrimack Hockey product and BluesBruins forward Jim Vesey. Veseys Islanders produced three players that were selected in the 2012 Draft in Grzelcyk, his own son, Jimmy by the Nashville Predators, and Malden Catholic forward Brendan Collier.

The fact that all three are well-steeped in the great Charlestown tradition of blue collar hockey just makes it all the better.

Ive known all these kids since I was young, so I was so happy to be able to experience this with them. Its kind of a surreal feeling to be here with them, said Grzelcyk. Im just happy that I was able to share it with them.

Id never been to a draft before. This was a cool experience seeing the passionate reaction from the fans. I wasnt sure if I was going to come because I didnt know where Id go. But I had a couple of teammates that were going high in the draft so I wanted to support them too.

As it turns Grizzy went much higher than even he expected after ranking 117th among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting list, but he had a couple of things working for him. The Bruins have never shied away from undersized defensemen that play with heart and courage, and the Black and Gold are still searching for that elusive puck-moving defenseman.

Grzelcyk will get that shot someday with the Bruins, and thats all a good, hockey-loving kid that grew up around the Bunker Hill monument could ask for.

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.